Expanding Systems

I love the games I play.  Pathfinder, Traveller, FATE, Shadowrun, Demolished Ones, they are all good fun.  I get very excited when I hear there is material that will expand the horizons of my games.  Most of the time that these expansions land though I am mid game so how do I incorporate the expansions?

New rules sets.  Curse in disguise or gift from
 the Gods?

In some cases it is an easy thing to do.  Sometimes it is a book of NPC’s and other times a book of creatures.  These are no-brain inclusions that add a good level of depth at the area that most GM’s are excited to receive the boost.  Creating NPC’s is a time consuming process in many systems and it can be a laborious task.  Especially if they are an enemy who you want to last more than a single session whilst challenging but not overpowering the players.  That balancing act can take hours, but a book of monsters or NPC’s allow us as GM’s to do this from a starting point that is much closer to what we want as an end point rather than starting with blank sheets.

Of course building NPC’s and Monsters can be a fun thing to do too.  When I was first getting into D&D in the 80’s I had a friend (Ben Wherritt) who lived in the same street as my grandparents.  When I would go down there for school holidays he and I would spend hours with a notebook.  One of us would draw a creature and the other would create the statistics for it.  We had a blast and came up with some cool creatures in the process.  Also, there is nothing like dreaming up an NPC and fully fleshing them out from scratch, but to do it with every NPC can be a chore.

The expansion books that simply add more of what already exists are fine.  More magic items – great!  Some horror themed creatures – fantastic!  Then come the books that add to the game in ways that have not previously existed.  New classes become available, new rules for doing things you previously couldn’t.  There may even be new material for your current class that you are playing that you have not seen before.  Of course then there are other books that change things up all over again.  Like the Backgrounds of Ultimate Campaign for Pathfinder, or even more recent, Mythic Adventures that make your heroes more than just heroes.

How do we add these to existing campaigns?  For me this is a really difficult question as I am running two Adventure Paths (AP) at the moment and of course none of these are designed for the use of this book.  The new Adventure Path is a Myhtic Adventure series and looks interesting.  I remember one of my players saying he wants to get into the Worldwound at some stage.  Not sure I am going to run it but at least I’ll have the option if I want to.  A book like Mythic Adventures has had me excited for its arrival and now I have it in my hands I want to use it but how?

I have been designing a high level adventure for the players that went through the Serpent Skull AP so they may continue on with it.  Do I ascend their characters to mythic level and make the final three levels of their characters be the most epic they possibly can?  Perhaps I will use it in the clock adventure that I have been developing over the past few weeks.

CR 27!  Did I mention CR 27?

In most circumstances books like these tend to mean you wait until the next character or game is rolled up.  It is certainly that way with the Ultimate Campaign book but Mythic Adventures allows for players to ascend to a mythic tier at any stage.  I have a lot of reading to do to work out exactly what this is going to mean to my games but it is an exciting thing to consider.  One thing I did notice was in the first book of the new AP had in the monster manual a CR 27 creature.  Holy hell!  CR 27!  This mythic stuff must mean there are some powerful items within.

I have no real answers for these questions.  Changes that are wide affecting always are difficult to integrate into an existing campaign.  It is hard to just draw a line in the sand and say “Things happen this way now.”  I am keen to hear how you do it in your games but I am glad it seems that it is something the designers considered with this expansion.  It was a point that they made clear and early.n Anyhow, I have a book to read!  Keep rolling!

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